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Bayelsa poll: Ex-CP, 51 others testify as Sylva closes case against Diri

The All Progressives Congress, along with its candidate in the Bayelsa State governorship poll, Timipre Sylva, called a total of 52 witnesses, including a former Commissioner of Police in the state, Akeem Alausa, to close their case at the election petition tribunal in Abuja.

The APC and its candidate, Sylva are challenging the re-election of the governor, Duoye Diri, and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrujakpo.

The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Diri winner of the election after polling 175, 196 votes to defeat his closest rival, Sylva of the APC who scored 110,108 votes.

Dissatisfied, Sylva and the APC approached the tribunal to challenge the declaration of Diri as the winner of the November 11, 2023 governorship election.

Sylva and the APC are contending that elections were held in some polling units in three local governments of Southern Ijaw, Ogbia, and Nembe where INEC and the other respondents claimed there was no election.

The petitioners argued that including the results from these local governments in their score would make them victorious in the election.

They urged the tribunal to hold that election held in the said polling units across three local governments and declared them the winner.

At the proceedings on Tuesday, the former Commissioner of Police provided testimony supporting the petitioners and submitted exhibits as evidence.

While being cross-examined by INEC’s lawyer, Alausa admitted that his role as the police chief in Bayelsa State during the election was characterised by protests.

He said another top police officer, John Babangida, was deployed to the state to replace him.

“I was later returned to Bayelsa State after the protests,” he added.

Alausa, however, denied the allegation that he was an ally of Sylva.

During further cross-examination by Diri’s lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN), Alausa said he was at the tribunal to testify based on a letter from the office of the Inspector-General of Police.

He also admitted that his witness statement on oath was prepared for him by his O.C. Legal, whose name he did not mention.

The witness further told the tribunal that the documents he tendered were from policemen who were stationed at polling units on election day and that he was the maker of the documents.

He also admitted that although 16 political parties participated in the governorship election, he did not make any witness statement on oath for 15 other parties except the APC and that his evidence was based on Nembe, Ogbia, and Southern Ijaw LGAs where election results were being challenged.

Answering questions from the PDP’s lawyer, Oyetibo, SAN, the witness admitted that a Prado Jeep was donated to the Bayelsa State Police Command during his stay and that upon his removal from the state, he went away with the vehicle.

He, however, said that he returned the Prado Jeep based on the directive of the IG who acted on a letter that was written to him by Diri.

A star witness of the petitioners, Denis Otiotio, who was cross-examined by INEC lawyer, Charles Edosanwan, SAN, on the 42 voter registers, admitted that no name on the register was ticked for election purposes.

Otiotio, however, insisted that the voter registers that were shown to him by the electoral body, were not the ones that were used for the conduct of the gubernatorial election.

The APC witness however did not tender any other voter registers to counter the INEC.

During the proceeding, the tribunal admitted 42 different voter registers, tendered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from various polling units of Nembe, Ogbia, and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas of the state, to establish its position that the election was not held in the areas due to violence.

At the end of the proceedings, counsel for the petitioners, Ogwu Onoja, SAN, announced the closure of the hearing in the petition.

Justice Adekunle Adeleye thereafter fixed March 4 for the INEC, Diri, the deputy governor, Ewhrujakpo, and the PDP to open their defence.

SourcePunch

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